Run into more customer service bots lately? Let Marketplace Tech know. More info

Economic mobility tracked state by state

Marketplace Contributor May 10, 2012

Jeremy Hobson: A new report from the Pew Charitable Trusts says your ability to achieve the American Dream depends on where you live. The report maps economic mobility across all 50 states.

From the Marketplace Wealth and Poverty desk, Shereen Meraji reports.

Shereen Marisol Meraji: Remember “The Jeffersons”? George and Wheezy moved from working class Queens to the Upper East Side.

Well, New York is one of the states that did well in Pew’s economic mobility study right along with New Jersey and Maryland. In those states, more people moved up the income ladder and fewer down it compared to the rest of the U.S. A region that didn’t fare as well:

Erin Currier: The South performs consistently worse than the national average.

Erin Currier’s team at Pew just crunched the numbers.

But Isabel Sawhill studies social mobility at Brookings and says education most likely plays a role. In 2000, she says, one in three people living in Maryland had a bachelor’s degree. Compare that to one in five in South Carolina.

Isabel Sawhill: Not only do better educated people earn more, they experience faster earnings growth during their prime earning years.

Pew’s study doesn’t include the recession years. So right now, education may not help you move on up but it will help you stay employed.

I’m Shereen Marisol Meraji for Marketplace.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.